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  1. #1

    Using a vacuum sealer?

    I'm buying a lot of food and everything else I can think of, I'm new at this. Family thinks I'm nuts. Going it alone. I have a vacuum bag sealer, a good one, and tons of bags, and have oxygen absorbers on the way. Can I put my own new boxed food in them with a oxy. absorber? Like powdered milk, it's good for 2/3 years new, if in a vacuum bag, with the absorber, won't it last years and years too? Then I can do small package mixes, my own sugar, and teas, does anyone have the answer to this? Also, if I bag seal batteries, do I need an axygen absorber in them too?

  2. #2
    If your using a vacuum sealer then you don't need oxygen absorbers. It won't hurt but it is just overkill. What i do is either leave the food in the original bag with the bag opened or cut the directions from the container and put them in the bag with the food. There are a few things that you don't want to vacuum seal -one of them is brown sugar. When sealing powdery items you need to keep the powder from being sucked into the sealer.

    There are a lot of threads about using a "food saver". Unfortunately they are not all under one topic so you have to search around. OTOH you will find a lot of interesting and helpful info. : )

    So- while in the forum tab, in the search box try: food saver, vacuum sealer, jar attachment. You will also find Grainlady's post especially helpful.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Hi Nemo and welcome to the forum.

    I'm a veteran FoodSaver user -- since 1986 (I'm on my 3rd one and the next one is in the basement - new in the box). I don't think I could do home food storage without one after all these years. I dislike using buckets for food storage and have very little of my dry goods stored in them. I've successfully used this method since 1986 and didn't even know what oxygen absorbers and mylar bags were until a few years ago. So different strokes for different folks....

    Oxygen-free storage will extend the shelf-life (probably double the storage time), but temperature is also important. Some foods don't taste the same after being vacuum-sealed for a prolonged time, so you may want to do some trial and error as well as making sure you rotate these foods in and out of storage on a regular basis. When you store your food reserves at the "optimum storage temperature (between 40°F to 60°F)" that temperature range ALONE can double the storage life. The shelf-life of storage foods is usually calculated on 70°F, which is considered "room temperature" and all food will degrade quicker at temperatures warmer than room temperature. Even foods like MREs will degrade quickly if stored in hot temperatures. This is the projected storage life of MREs at different temperatures based on tests by the U.S. Army:

    60°F - 130 months
    70°F - 100 months
    80°F - 76 months
    90°F - 55 months
    100°F - 22 months
    110°F - 5 months
    120°F - 1 month

    I have a 3-year supply of milk and milk-substitute powders (4 different brands in storage at this time), but I purchase it in hermetically-sealed #10 cans and it's placed in my 3rd level of home food storage - Long-term Emergency Storage. Since I use powdered milk products for everyday use, I also buy it in a 25# bucket or I'll purchase a 50# bag and split it with a friend to keep the price per gallon of reconstituted milk low. The bulk amount in a bucket is considered a food from my 2nd layer of home food storage - which is Pantry Foods (foods used for everyday food preparation). I've been using powdered milk products exclusively since 1981 and don't ever purchase milk from the store.

    If you purchase boxes of non-fat dry milk powdered from a grocery store (which is generally the most expensive and also has the shortest shelf-life, and not nearly as tasty as a couple brands I use everyday) I'd suggest storing it in canning jars and use the FoodSaver jar sealer with it to keep it "free-flowing" rather than packed tight in a bag. I will occasionally store some of my powdered milk in jars I vacuum-seal shut in order to extend the shelf-life. In fact, you will find using vacuum-sealed canning jars a real $ saver for dry goods. I check the lids of my vacuum-sealed canning jars once a month, that way if a seal fails the food was only unsealed for a month or less. I store a wide variety of dry goods in canning jars: tea bags and loose tea leaves, instant coffee crystals, chocolate chips, grains/seeds/beans, prepared pecans and almonds (they are sprouted overnight in lightly-salted water and then dehydrated until they are crispy dry which makes them easier to digest and they will keep longer than raw nuts), some pasta, homemade cocoa mix, freeze-dried foods after I open a #10 can.....

    A good resource for information about using a vacuum-sealer for home food storage is Wendy DeWitt - You can find her series of training sessions on YouTube. Be sure to download her booklet - Everything Under The Sun. Since you are just getting started, Wendy's information will be really helpful since you don't seem to have a good food storage plan as of yet. A plan will help you use your money wisely and choose foods wisely. For instance, I store and use tomato powder (which has an indefinite shelf-life) and I use it to make tomato sauce, tomato paste, pizza sauce, pasta sauce, tomato juice and can even make a fairly good bbq sauce and ketchup by adding a few pantry items. So I've eliminated all of those other cans/jars of foods from my food storage.

    You need to make sure you don't vacuum-seal flour in FoodSaver bags. There is enough moisture in flour - when packed tight in the sealed bag - it can develop a musty odor. It could even develop aflatoxins which are a type of mycotoxin if stored in bags, and that's unsafe in food. If you are storing flour, store it in a jar or canister that you can vacuum-seal shut - BUT - it remains free-flowing within the jar or canister so it won't develop the musty smell. This is information I have in one of my FoodSaver User-Manuals, so it's the suggested storage from the company. I only store whole grains - no flour - since wheat has a much longer shelf-life than flour. Flour, even vacuum-sealed and/or frozen only stores for 1-2 years (at best) and old flour is often the reason for failed breads and baked goods. Plus, I try to store as much nutrient-dense foods as possible, and bleached and unbleached flour, as well as commercial whole wheat flour are "dead" food.

    If you store packaged foods - things like Pasta Roni or seasoned pasta or rice dinners, you can put the contents of the box in a canning jar and vacuum-seal the jars shut. If the packages are small enough you can place the contents of several boxes/packages in one jar (place them in a plastic storage bag and stack in the jar). Tape the cooking instructions (nutrition information, or anything else you need to know from the package) on the outside of the jar. I put white sugar, bag and all, in a FoodSaver bag and seal shut. HOWEVER, you need to avoid vacuum-sealing brown sugar as kathya mentioned. There is enough moisture in brown sugar to potentially develop bacteria growth in the oxygen-free environment.

    I tend to store ingredients instead of processed foods and make my own "convenience" foods from those ingredients (Saving Money with Homemade Convenience Mixes - Whole foods and ingredients are generally less expensive to purchase than prepared and processed foods. I don't even store much pasta because I can make my own from grains I keep in storage. I make some "In-A-Jar" type recipes and vacuum-seal them in jars, but they are "time sensitive" even vacuum-sealed and need to be rotated as Pantry Foods. There are lots of recipes in the book "Dinner Is In The Jar" by Kathy Clark - I have some of these in my pantry, but overall they tend to be too high in sodium and use too many processed foods for me.

    My food storage plan...

    -Level 1- 72-Hour Emergency Foods: These are foods that don't require heating or refrigeration. We've used this during winter storms when we were without utilities for a prolonged period of time.

    -Level 2- Pantry Foods: Foods I use for everyday food preparation. I started with 6-months worth and eventually built it into 12-months.

    -Level 3- Long-term Emergency Foods: Foods that keep longer than 1-year and I have 1-years worth. Most are freeze-dried or dried.

    I also have 3-years worth of the "Seven Survival Foods" - grains, legumes, seeds for sprouting, salt, sweeteners, fats (I store coconut oil because it has a longer shelf-life than other fats, as well as health benefits) and powdered milk (or milk substitute/s). These are the foods I use the most in our diet as well.

    BTW, I never use oxygen absorbers - it's just another expense the way I see it - but you can add them if you'd like.

    Batteries need to be stored where it is cool and dry. Some "experts" suggest in the refrigerator (which has very low humidity due to the frost-free feature). The only benefit to vacuum-sealing them would be to assure they stay dry, and that can be done in an air-tight container if they are stored where humidity is high. From what I've read, oxygen-free storage doesn't seem to be a benefit.

  4. #4
    I have trouble deciding where to post things as so many topics are intermixed. Anyway, this link is about storing and shelf life of various dry foods.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Thank you for posting that Kathya, I was looking the other night for how long white sugar could be stored.
    Live simply so others may simply live.

  6. #6
    Very good info

  7. #7
    I’m also somewhat new to vacuum sealing and have been trying to find out if I should vacuum seal sprouting seeds? Some sites say yes and some say no I know that temperature is important so should they be stored in the refrigerator or just a cool cabinet? Also should dried fruit, berries, raisons, be vacuum sealed. I put some marshmallows in a jar and vacuumed them are they safe or do they have enough moisture in them to get toxic? Oh so many questions I’m just glad I found this site.

  8. #8

    Hello Jane, I am new here too, and have learned a lot.

    I just want to see if this will post, my last one did not.
    I have learned a lot from GrainLady and Kathryn.
    I have my sealer, waiting for the jar top sealer for jars, gonna start with dried beans in them.

  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Quote Originally Posted by Jane View Post
    I’m also somewhat new to vacuum sealing and have been trying to find out if I should vacuum seal sprouting seeds? Some sites say yes and some say no I know that temperature is important so should they be stored in the refrigerator or just a cool cabinet? Also should dried fruit, berries, raisons, be vacuum sealed. I put some marshmallows in a jar and vacuumed them are they safe or do they have enough moisture in them to get toxic? Oh so many questions I’m just glad I found this site.
    Vacuum-sealing seeds for sprouting...
    My food storage "hero", author Rita Bingham, does a good job of sorting out the information at this link.

    On a personal note, I'm sprouting wheat on a daily basis (for growing into wheatgrass) I vacuum-sealed in FoodSaver bags in 2007 and I don't have any problems getting it to sprout. I sprout a wide variety of grains/seeds/beans I have vacuum-sealed in storage on a regular basis. It's perfectly fine to place seeds destined for sprouting in air-tight containers as an option (a jar with a tight-fitting lid is a better option than a zip-lock bag since pantry pests can chew through plastic bags). The biggest benefit from vacuum-sealing them means you are assured you won't have an insect infestation because they won't live without oxygen if the food happens to have pests or their eggs in them. Most pantry pests are either already in the food or the box or bag, or they are often found in dry pet food which is often kept in the house.

    My food storage is in a room in our basement, which is the coolest place in our home. "Room temperature" is considered 70°F and that's what most food storage charts are based on. Optimum storage is between 40°F to 60°F. Refrigerator temperature should be 40°F or colder to prevent premature food spoilage and the increased potential for bacteria growth.

    Your home-dehydrated or commercially dried foods (like apricots, raisins, prunes, dried blueberries, dried cranberries, etc.) will keep fine in the package they come in, or a jar with a lid on it, but you should consider them pantry foods (enough for 6-12-months worth) and rotate them on a regular basis - not long-term emergency foods. In fact, home-dehydrated foods aren't the best keepers. Fruits keep longer than vegetables because of the fruit sugar. I try to use all home-dehydrated foods within 3-12-months of preparation. I DO vacuum-seal my home-dehydrated apple slices in 1/2-gallon canning jars because I make so many of them -- but I make sure they are dried until they are brittle, not rubbery, for vacuum-sealed storage. I'll vacuum-seal zucchini "chips" as well (we use them instead of potato chips), another food that I dry crispy dry. If you can find a copy of the book "How To Dry Foods" by Deanna DeLong (check your local library) - she explains how you can check the percentage of moisture left in foods you dehydrate at home.

    You should contact the FoodSaver help line for more information. I have some problems with some of the so-called "experts" when it comes to food safety and vacuum-sealing. I think some of them either don't know, or disregard food-safety concerning storing foods with moisture over 10-percent. "It ain't killed me yet." isn't a good plan! We're contending with more types of bacteria, and more deadly bacteria than even existed 20-years ago.

    For long-term storage (stored longer than a year) I have freeze-dried raisins and other fruits/vegetables/cheese/meat which are packed hermetically sealed in #10 cans. When I open them I'll transfer them to canning jars (user-friendly amounts) and vacuum-seal them to keep them fresh longer. Even home-canned foods should be considered pantry foods and used within a year of processing.

    Marshmallows are interesting when you vacuum-seal them and need to be vacuum-sealed in a canister or jar in order to keep them free-flowing. They puff-up as the air is taken out of the container, but they are safe to vacuum-seal, but I would NEVER consider them a long-term storage food. A better idea is to learn how to make homemade marshmallows and to store the ingredients with which to make them. How to: The same ingredients you use to make homemade marshmallows are useful for making all kinds of things, and that's why we store INGREDIENTS instead of specific-use specialty foods (I store the ingredients to make pancakes/waffles - not pancake/waffle mix - because I can make hundreds of things from those same simple ingredients).

    The more things you can make from scratch using INGREDIENTS you have in storage, the more versatile your food storage will be. For instance, I store tomato powder - a great storage item that has an indefinite shelf-life. With water and simple pantry ingredients (seasonings, spices, herbs, vinegar, sweetener, oil, etc.) I make tomato sauce, tomato paste, pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, tomato juice, and even a reasonable facsimile of a quick version of ketchup and bbq sauce. So I don't have shelves lined with cans/jars of tomato-related products other than tomato powder. With tomato powder, home-grown dehydrated tomatoes, and some home-grown tomatoes in the freezer, that's about all the tomato things I have. I store wheat, which has a really long storage life, and with the simple ingredients of whole wheat flour, water and some seasonings I can make whole wheat "CHIPS"/"CRACKERS". Add a little sweetener and some cinnamon to the flour and water and you can make "cereal" flakes. It's easy, and a lot less expensive to make your own snack foods using storage ingredients.

    I vacuum-seal nuts after I've soaked them in lightly-salted water and dehydrated them until they are crispy dry (per information found in the book "Nourishing Traditions"). They are now easier to digest, higher in nutrition, and will store longer than raw nuts.

    Keep studying... I'm still learning all kinds of things even after using a FoodSaver for home food storage since 1986.

  10. #10
    For things like beans, rice and oats I normally just leave them in the bag, with the bag opened, and make a bag. Everything else I pretty much use jars.



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